A year ago, on March 11th, we were experiencing the most tragic natural disaster that we hope we will ever witness in our respective lifetimes. In fact, Tohoku and Japan are still recovering from the earthquake, tsunami's and nuclear reactor meltdowns that shook the nation and world with vivid images and television coverage that people watching will probably never forget. We have been helping in all the normal ways, but have also been sending donations on a regular basis to the animal rescue groups because the animals have been mostly ignored, especially in Fukushima, ever since the disaster(s) hit one year ago. JEARS is a group we supported from the beginning with Toby even spending time down there for 12 days in the immediate aftermath last year. We will continue to support them, Japan Cat Network and many other groups rescuing and supporting the animals affected in Tohoku.
Yesterday, exactly one year from the disasters, Toby and a group of 6 friends (5 Japanese, 1 Canadian) headed to the mountains to honor, respect and celebrate the lives, human and animal, lost and still struggling in the last year. Above is a picture from the start of our emotion filled day.
We had amazing weather all day yesterday as we skinned and snowshoed up to our destination. The untouched face in the right foreground of the above picture was the first place we skied before heading up to the big wall of snow and ice in the background.
Ogawa-san, our fearless leader, took us to the goods again today. As a reward, he received one of the first lines down this steep face. Above, you can see Ogawa-san standing on the top in the red jacket. Below, you can see him making a very nice turn on the way down. GREAT line, Ogawa-san!! You still have it!!
Toby and his Canadian friend, Tim, took a short run (and jump) while the others had lunch. Before climbing back up, Toby snapped a shot of the rest of the group reaching the top of the ridge. The above picture of the group climbing is a favorite of Toby's.
Above, Tim is boot packing the last bit on the ridge before dropping down the long, steep run that will eventually take us back to the car. Mt. Furanodake is in the background. It sure was a beautiful day to be in the mountains!
After skiing the face of the wall, we turned around and admired our artwork. Above is a clear shot of our lines and below is a panoramic shot Toby took of the entire area (click on the picture to enlarge).
Above, is a picture of a cool area that we look forward to going back to. There are two nice faces to ski and a waterfall in the middle. We took this picture shortly after we all stopped at 2:46pm for a moment of silence with the rest of the country to honor the exact moment the earthquake struck 365 days earlier that triggered so much destruction afterwards. To be somewhere so incredibly beautiful while remembering something so incredibly ugly was not lost on the moment. Our hope is those lives lost are enjoying this type of beauty wherever they are and those still struggling will be able to experience this type of moment sooner rather than later.
After 6 hours out in the mountains, we finally came back to where we started from. The best 6 hours of the weekend.
After having a soak at the local hot springs to share stories with the other skiers (and snowboarder), we headed back to Toby's car (foreground) and noticed the wall that we skied in the far background (left-center of picture). We went a long way, but....it was worth it. Japan and Tohoku still have a long way to go, but they will make it and they, too, will look back on it as being worth it. がんばれ 日本!